Problems With Arkansas Exxon Pipeline Identified in 1989

2 Aug


akspillCONWAY, Ark. (AP) — A technical report on the ExxonMobil pipeline that failed in Faulkner County and spilled crude oil in a neighborhood shows that problems were identified with its construction method as early as 1989, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Log Cabin Democrat ( ) reported that the study on the Pegasus pipeline shows that other pipelines manufactured around the same time are also susceptible to failure.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., told the newspaper that ExxonMobil officials told him that its own testing of the pipeline didn’t reveal any problems. The company evaluated the pipeline to detect cracks in February, and the pipeline ruptured in March, forcing about 20 families from their homes.

The report by Hurst Metallurgical Research Laboratory in Texas was provided to ExxonMobil and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in July. The Log Cabin Democrat obtained a copy of the report Thursday.

Spokesman Aaron Stryk said ExxonMobil only has preliminary results of the February tests.

“We still don’t have the final analysis for the (February) 2013 inspection,” he said.

He said the company is still doing “validation digs” and other testing of the pipeline.

The March oil spill dumped more than 5,000 barrels of crude oil into a subdivision in Mayflower, forcing about 20 families from their homes. The oil also spread into a cove along Lake Conway, though ExxonMobil officials said the crude didn’t get into the main body of the lake.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer earlier filed a joint complaint in federal court seeking $45,000 per day in penalties for the effects of the spill.

After the report was provided to ExxonMobil on July 10, the company said manufacturing defects led to the 65-year-old pipeline rupture.

“Additional contributing factors include atypical pipe properties, such as extremely low impact toughness and elongation properties across the … seam,” the company said at the time.

A spokesman said July 10 that ExxonMobil was conducting further testing so it could better understand all factors that led to the pipeline’s failure.

The report said that problems with manufacturing associated with the Pegasus pipeline and others constructed in the same era were identified as early as 1989.

Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and leader of Washington D.C.-based consulting firm Hall & Associates, told the newspaper Thursday the Pegasus line’s record “speaks for itself.”

“If you’re interested in safety, it needs to be replaced,” he said. “Or at least there should be safe rules for the operation.”


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